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Superintendent: Clackamas River, River Mill plan won't affect staffing

Eagle Creek principal: School move is "best for students"

While he has mixed feelings about the probable re-purposing of Eagle Creek Elementary, Principal Dan Draper ultimately thinks the recommendation to house the district’s two elementary schools in the Clackamas River and River Mill Elementary buildings is a good one.

In January, a configuration planning committee comprising high school students, community members, parents, teachers and administrators unanimously recommended re-purposing Eagle Creek Elementary in favor of using Clackamas River and River Mill Elementary as K-5 schools and bumping sixth grade to Estacada Junior High School.

Superintendent Marla Stephenson said she plans to ask the school board to endorse the recommended configuration and her plan to implement it in March.

“In the end I think it’s what’s best for the students,” Draper said of the re-purposing the Eagle Creek building. “I think having a central campus has its benefits.”

Whereas Eagle Creek Elementary and Clackamas River elementaries are about six miles apart, Draper said the closer proximity of the Clackamas River and River Mill school buildings allows for more collaboration.

As Clackamas River and River Mill Elementary are within a few blocks of each other, Draper said shared elementary school staff will have a far shorter commute between the two buildings, thus maximizing their contact with students.

New role for Eagle Creek

Stephenson said the district is forming a committee to be led by Estacada School District Business Manager Donna Cancio to discuss how to re-purpose Eagle Creek Elementary.

“The committee will be tasked with envisioning our district’s long-term use of the Eagle Creek campus,” Stephenson wrote in an email.

“We have a number of tenants at River Mill that I need to talk to,” Stephenson continued. “There is a preschool, a childcare, a number of special education programs run by the county, and the charter school. They may want to discuss leasing at Eagle Creek.”

“I’m glad that the district plans to keep Eagle Creek alive with other programs, even if it’s not going to be an elementary school,” Draper said of the building, which he referred to as a community hub.

Staffing status

The recommended reconfiguration is not expected to result in the loss or addition of any jobs.

“The principal, the teachers and the staff are simply relocating to River Mill from Eagle Creek,” Stephenson said.

However, other factors will contribute to changes in staffing during the 2015-16 school year.

Hired to assume the role of superintendent on July 1, Stephenson said she started too late to make staffing adjustments for this school year, but staffing levels are likely to change for the next year.

Staffing at the lower grade levels will be emphasized because of the transition to full-day kindergarten and an effort to bring elementary class sizes to less than 25 students.

Stephenson said the district is currently overstaffed at grades 7-12, as it has not yet adjusted for declining enrollment in the upper grade levels.

Community forum

Stephenson has already met with parent groups and staff to gather input on the reconfiguration recommendation and scheduled a community forum to gather input from the wider public.

The community meeting on the reconfiguration of the Estacada School District will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18, at the River Mill school library.


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